The loss dropped the Mavs to 38-43 on the season heading into Sunday’s regular season finale at home at 2:30 p.m. against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Mavs played without Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery), Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle soreness), Josh Green (rest), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring injury recovery) and Christian Wood (rest). Point guard Doncic started and played the first 12:35 of the game before leaving for good with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, and was 4-of-11 from the field.
Overall, the Mavs had six players score at least 10 points, led by 13 points apiece from Markieff Morris, McKinley Wright IV and Doncic. Also, A.J Lawson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, and Justin Holiday and Davis Bertans added 11 points apiece.
Coby White (24 points, seven rebounds, 11 assists), Patrick Williams (23 points, eight boards), Nikola Vucevic (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Ayo Dosunmu (12 points, nine rebounds).
Chicago led by that final three-point margin, but the Mavs had two cracks at tying the game and sending it into overtime. But Holiday and Wright each misfired from three-point range and the Bulls left town with a 39-42 record.
“But understand, things happen. It wasn’t our season. We’ve got to learn from this, and we’ll get better.”
Despite being short-handed, the Mavs jumped out to a 43-28 lead with 8:38 remaining in the first half after JaVale McGee buried a two-pointer and a three-pointer, and Morris nailed a jumper from the corner. Dallas was still ahead at intermission, 67-54, when rookie Jaden Hardy drained a halfcourt shot just before the halftime buzzer sounded.
“The guys in that locker room, they were pros,” Kidd said. “They came out and did their job. Everyone played, and we played our young guys a lot tonight. Understanding, we didn’t win the game, but those guys played hard and they put themselves in a position to win that game and we just came up short.”
The Bulls got within 91-86 of the Mavs late after the third quarter, then kept pushing and pushing until they went ahead for good at 100-98 on a basket by Williams with 5:39 left in the game.
“At the end of the day it’s basketball,” said Theo Pinson, who finished with eight points and six rebounds in 31 minutes. “You’ve got a little bit more leeway.
“You don’t have to worry about coming out. You take a couple of shots that you probably don’t take. I don’t think I’ve ever taken a leaner to tie a game in my life.”
“That felt good,” Pinson said. “It was fun. We were just playing basketball. The ball was bouncing our way, we were making shots and moving the ball, and everybody was succeeding and playing well.
“A lot of guys who played tonight don’t get many minutes, so we were taking it as an opportunity.”
At the half, Morris had 13 points in just eight minutes on 5-of-6 shots, including 3-of-4 buckets from beyond the three-point arc. Also at the half, the Mavs were 25-of-47 from the field for 53.2 percent, including 12-of-28 from downtown.
McGee scored all nine of his points on 4-of-4 shots in just seven first-half minutes. Lawson, meanwhile, brought the sellout crowd of 20,313 to their feet when he negotiated a nifty one-handed rebound dunk following a missed three-pointer by Bertans midway through the third quarter that gave the Mavs an 80-68 lead.
“It felt amazing — the opportunity to come out on the court and play hard,” said Lawson, who played 23 minutes and was 5-of-9 from the field. “My teammates were all encouraging me, and it just felt good to see the ball go in.
Doncic was the catalyst behind the Mavs leading, 29-26, after the first quarter. Doncic fired a pass in the corner, which Pinson turned into a three-pointer with 11 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Just keep playing hard, be professional, be pros and play the game,” Lawson said. “We came out hard.”
The Bulls led 17-7 with 5:25 left in the first quarter. At that juncture the Mavs were 3-of-14 from the floor and the Bills were 7-of-12 from the field.
But the tide quickly changed as the Mavs ran off the game’s ensuing 14 points to take a 21-17 lead. From there, the Mavs had a firm grip on this game – until midway through the fourth quarter.
“Those guys in that locker room were pros,” Kidd said. “They played hard. That’s what I asked them to do, and they did it.
“That first half, the ball was moving, the defense was great. I think that group that was in their last got a little tired. We played them heavy minutes, and we got to see the younger guys play.”
The Mavs shot 45.2 percent from the field and only committed nine turnovers. Meanwhile, Kidd said Doncic, Irving and some of the other rotation players will not play against the Spurs.
“The big thing,” Kidd said, “is we just have to get better all the way around.”